FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2024
CONTACT: Brett Daniels, 469-262-5200
  • ESPN Retains Exclusive Worldwide Rights to All Rounds of the Expanded College Football Playoff, the Second Largest Annual Sporting Event in the U.S.
  • Starting in 2026-27, the College Football Playoff National Championship Will Be Broadcast on ABC in Addition to ESPN’s Signature MegaCast Presentation
  • Extension Includes Broad College Football Playoff Distribution Rights for Walt Disney Company Linear and Direct-to-Consumer Platforms and Offerings, Expanded Sales and Sponsorship Program for Disney Advertising
ESPN and the College Football Playoff (CFP) have reached a pair of media agreements that ensures ESPN will continue as the exclusive, worldwide rightsholder to college football’s premier postseason event through the 2031-32 season. The exclusive home of the CFP since its inception in 2015, ESPN will expand its current package for the final two years (through the 2025-26 season), adding all four of the new First Round games each year to ESPN’s existing New Year’s Six (now Quarterfinals and Semifinals) and the CFP National Championship rights in the new 12-team playoff that will launch this Fall.
In addition, ESPN has secured a new, six-year agreement – beginning in the 2026-27 season – for the entire CFP, which includes exclusive rights to all rounds of the expanded playoff – first round, quarterfinal, semifinal and National Championship, as well as continued exclusive rights to all ancillary programming connected to the playoff, such as the CFP Selection Show, weekly Top 25 Rankings Shows and more.
In both the amended two-year agreement and new six-year extension, the CFP provides ESPN with the right to sublicense a select number of games.
“ESPN has worked very closely with the College Football Playoff over the past decade to build one of the most prominent events in American sports. We look forward to enhancing our valued relationship over the next two years, and then continuing it for six more as we embark on this new, expanded playoff era,” said ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro. “This agreement further solidifies ESPN as the home of college football, as well as the destination for the vast majority of major college championships for the next eight years.”
“We are delighted to continue our long-standing relationship with ESPN,” said CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock. “It’s a significant day for the CFP and for the future of college football. The depth of coverage that ESPN gives to the sport throughout the season is second to none. There is no better platform to showcase this iconic championship as we move into the new 12-team format because ESPN’s people love college football every bit as much as we all do.”
Beginning in the 2026-27 season, ESPN will broadcast the CFP National Championship on ABC in addition to offering its signature MegaCast presentation across ESPN platforms. In all, the new agreement includes expansive rights to simulcast or MegaCast CFP games across all Walt Disney Company platforms, including TWDC Direct-to Consumer offerings.
The new, six-year agreement also provides expanded sales and sponsorship opportunities that will cement Disney Advertising as the exclusive seller of the College Football Playoff Official Partner Program and broaden Disney Advertising’s ability to connect more brands to the fandom and reach of the College Football Playoff.
“This new agreement solidifies the broadcast future of the College Football Playoff for many years to come,” said Chairman of the CFP Board of Managers and Mississippi State University President Dr. Mark Keenum. “ESPN has been a key piece of the overwhelming success of the playoff during these first ten years. The addition of ABC to this expanded relationship is just the next step in the continued growth of one of the top sporting events of the year.”
The CFP has contributed to the most-watched days in ESPN’s nearly 45-year history, led by the first CFP Semifinals in 2015 boosting ESPN to 11.6 million average viewers for New Year’s Day. The CFP Semifinals in 2018, 2022 and 2024 anchored ESPN in rounding out the top four complete day audiences in network history. College football on ESPN accounts for the top 15 and more than 50 of the top 100 most-watched cable programs on record (since 1987), with 8 of the top 10 directly from CFP Semifinals or National Championship games.
In 2023-24, ESPN’s expansive coverage of the CFP delivered a record year. The three-game CFP scored its most-watched matchups in six years (since Year 4) and third best of the CFP era with 23.6 million viewers and 15 percent year-over-year audience growth across the trio of games. The CFP National Championship and New Year’s Six averaged 15.1 million viewers, the best audience in five years and fifth highest in the 10-year history of the CFP, up double digits year-over-year.
The agreement with the CFP marks ESPN’s second significant college sports media rights extension in 2024, following the eight-year deal with the NCAA announced in January, which encompasses exclusive rights to 40 NCAA Championship events. ESPN now boasts the exclusive domestic rights to every major college championship outside of men’s basketball, and international rights to all major college championships.
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About ESPN
ESPN, the world’s leading multiplatform sports entertainment brand, features eight U.S. television networks, the leading sports app, direct-to-consumer ESPN+, leading social and digital platforms, ESPN.com, ESPN Audio, endeavors on every continent around the world, and more. ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc. (an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company) and 20 percent by Hearst.
About the College Football Playoff
The College Football Playoff (CFP) is the event that crowns the national champion in college football. The CFP Selection Committee ranks the top 25 teams at the end of the season. For the 2024 and 2025 seasons, the 12 playoff participants consist of the five highest ranked conference champions, plus the next seven highest ranked teams. The four highest ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four and receive a first-round bye. The schools seeded five through eight will host those seeded nine through 12 in first-round games. The quarterfinals and semifinals rotate annually among six bowl games – the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Vrbo Fiesta Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl Game presented by Prudential and the Allstate Sugar Bowl. This year’s quarterfinals will take place on December 31, 2024 and January 1, 2025, while the semifinals will be January 9-10, 2025. The College Football Playoff National Championship will be Monday, January 20, 2025, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. For additional information on the College Football Playoff, visit CollegeFootballPlayoff.com.
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